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8 months ago

How to fix a slow Android phone

Galaxy S7 edge

Make your Android fast again — it is possible

Updated May 4, 2017 to make sure these tricks work with the latest and greatest Androids!

We've all been there. You have a fancy, new, highly complex Android device that can do everything from checking your email to surfing the web to controlling your microwave so your popcorn doesn't burn. It's shiny and screaming fast while doing all the things we wanted it to do. Everything is roses all around.

Fast forward a year down the road, and besides the shiny wearing off, things aren't as zippy as they used to be. Apps take longer to open and run. Transitions between screens take longer to redraw than we would like. The speed demon that your device once was is starting to get a little frustrating to use. Your Android is slow.

Don't fret. This happens to every computer, even the Android one you carry in your pocket. The good news is that there are a few things you can do to alleviate your pain and get back to Speed Racer mode again. None are difficult, and we're going to take a look at the five best things you can do to "fix" a slow Android.

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8 months ago

How to clean and disinfect your Android smartphone

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Regardless of the Android phone you're carrying, make sure it's clean enough for you — and your loved ones, too.

You've seen the statistics, but have you seen the evidence? Awhile back, Buzzfeed kept a lively bunch of Petri dishes colonized with the same bacteria found on the smartphones of several colleagues. The unfortunate discovery was that there were actual pathogens found on the phones; essentially, potentially disease-causing strains of bacteria.

Whether you're a germaphobe, or someone who doesn't mind a bit of rolling around in the dirt, surely we can all agree that anything that can potentially cause disease is bad news. There are some quick things you can do to keep your Android devices clean and disinfected, however, and free of what could be harmful to your health.

Make a cleaning kit

The necessities for cleaning your Android smartphone are actually quite basic.

You have a kit for all your various USB charging cables and gadgets that plug into your Android device, so why not make a kit for cleaning your smartphone? At home, stock up on 70 percent or higher rubbing alcohol, finely pointed cotton swabs, and a barrel of toothpicks. You should also consider stocking up on a pack of microfiber cloths, as well as a few cans of compressed air. Most of them come in packs of two or three anyway.

Why not make a kit for cleaning your smartphone?

You'll also want some sort of cleaning solution that will disinfect the phone. I've built my only little collection of pre-mixed spritzers based on whatever I'd find on sale at Amazon, though the Whoosh! brand cleaner was suggested by one of our iMore brethren, and it's a good deal since it comes with a travel spritzer and microfiber cleaning cloth.

You could also make your own cleaning solution with 8 ounces of rubbing alcohol and 8 ounces of distilled water inside a spray bottle. A 50-50 mixture of white vinegar and distilled water also works if you're into keeping things relatively organic and don't mind the intense smell of the vinegar.

How to clean your Android phone

Every Android phone is different — a special, individual flower, if you will. But cleaning it is generally the same as cleaning any other mobile phone. There are ports, buttons, a screen, and an entire chassis that could all use a bit of a rubdown with some grime-cleaning solution.

Be careful not to puncture any speakers or wriggle any ports.

Grab a large, clean microfiber cloth or soft towel and lay it out. Or, you can quickly wipe over a substantial bit of table area with a winged out soapy sponge or towel. Just making sure the "operating" area is clean. Then, lay the phone down. Grab the can of compressed air and start blowing out the charging port, ensuring that whatever little particles are in there are flying up and out. (If you have trouble seeing, use the aid of a desk lamp and take off the shade for more light.) You can pump air into the rear speakers to clear them out, as dirt and gross particles also collect there.

If you see that there's too much grossness to clear out with just the compressed air, grab a fine toothpick and carefully dig out the grime that's causing you stress. Be careful not to puncture any speakers or wriggle any ports. If you see debris collecting elsewhere on the phone — like in the cracks around the frame, and in the top speaker grill — you can clear those out with a toothpick, too.

Cotton swabs can be helpful on the edges, but don't use them inside ports or speaker grilles.

Spray your microfiber cloth with cleaning solution and wipe it down — as often as you possibly can.

Now that you've primed the device for disinfecting, grab your alcohol- or vinegar-based cleaner. Spray it on the microfiber cloth and wipe it down. Then, take a cotton swab and dip it inside the bottle of rubbing alcohol. Trace it around the edges, the buttons, and any other crevices of the chassis that require cleaning, but take heed not to use them inside ports or speaker grilles. Wipe it all off with the microfiber cloth when you're finished.

Cleaning on the go

For a quicker cleaning experience, a pre-moistened cleaning cloth is just as apt at cleaning your smartphone as the multi-tool cleaning process. Grab a brand like these Wireless Wipes, which smell nice and clean your device. Sephora also offers a batch of stylishly-packed screen cleansing towelettes for those who like a little flair with their cleaning supplies. Or, just get into the habit of cleaning your phone once a week at home — maybe even designate a night of the week as phone cleaning night. Make it excited by adding music.

A pre-moistened cleaning cloth is just as apt at cleaning your smartphone.

Also, consider using hand sanitizer between meals and before touching your phone. A little can go a long way, and I've often found that something as simple as a travel bottle of Purell hand sanitizer can work miracles at removing dirt from the fingers.

Your methods

What are your methods for keeping your phone and other gadgets clean and germ-free? Let us know!

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8 months ago

How to set up the Galaxy S8 to send Bluetooth audio to two devices at once

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Sharing audio from one device to two headphones has always been a pain.

From headphone splitters that almost never work when you need them to spltting earbuds and staying uncomfortably within inches of each other for an in-flight movie, it's just sucked. Well, rejoice, music and movie sharers! The Samsung Galaxy S8 and S8+ sport an awesome new feature called Dual Audio, which will broadcast Bluetooth media audio to two Bluetooth devices at once. It's easy to use and works remarkably well.

Let's get our beat on, together!

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8 months ago

How to use the blue light filter on the Galaxy S8

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Galaxy S8 quick settings

In lieu of turning off our screens altogether, we're focusing on limiting blue light.

There's a big trend in consumer electronics relating to reducing the amount of blue light we're exposed to at night, and Samsung does its part on the Galaxy S8 and S8+ with its "blue light filter." The feature tints the screen to a reddish glow in an attempt to help you transition to sleeping at night, and it offers a few settings so you can make the effect as strong or weak as you like.

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8 months ago

Go Rogue with these Star Wars themes

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I find your lack of Star Wars theme disturbing.

Update May 4th: We revisit these great themes for Rogue One to celebrate Star Wars Day!  

It's opening night. You're all ready for your midnight showing: got your tickets, got your perfect Star Wars shirt picked out, or maybe a whole ensemble if you're aiming to win that costume contest… but is your phone as decked out as your lovely self? No? Let's fix that.

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8 months ago

The many, many ways of theming your Samsung Galaxy S8

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Be different, not the same.

We strive for individuality in life, and nowhere should we strive for it more than in our phones, a digital extension of ourselves and for many an embodiment of our lives. Samsung gets this, which is why for the last few years, we've been able to theme the system and several core apps on the phone to match our tastes with Samsung Themes. This year, that theming reaches new heights and new polish, but as always, there are pitfalls.

Here's how to arrive at your perfect theme.

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8 months ago

How to use Media Volume Sync on the Galaxy S8

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Bluetooth blues

Bluetooth volume can be a little odd.

The volume range on some Bluetooth devices is really small; on others the steps are too far apart. Sometimes you need to adjust both volumes, and sometimes it'd be nice to only have to turn up one volume instead of two. Samsung gets this, so they have a setting for Bluetooth volume on the Samsung Galaxy S8 that makes things a little easier for most devices…

And it really messes things up for others. Here's how to get it set properly for your particular Bluetooth situation.

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8 months ago

How to use one-handed mode on the Galaxy S8

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How to use one-handed mode on the Galaxy S8

Not everyone has the same sized hands.

Samsung's move to tall and narrow displays on the Galaxy S8 and S8+ have made them even easier to use, but that doesn't mean its one-handed mode has gone away. It's still super easy to shrink down your screen to something you can easily reach with your thumb, and you have two different ways to get it done.

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8 months ago

How to back up photos and videos to the cloud

How to back up photos and video to your computer or the cloud

How do I back up my photos and video?

Update May 1, 2017: This article has been updated to make sure the information is fresh and works with the latest versions of the apps we recommend.

You have all these awesome photos and video on your phone, but what happens when you decide to buy a new phone or your storage becomes too full to take any more? Back it all up to the cloud!

There are a few incredibly easy-to-use apps that let you store your photos and videos in the cloud.

How to back up your photos and videos to the cloud or your computer using Google Photos

Google Photos is one of the best ways to store, backup and view your photos if you have a smartphone. It will also seamlessly upload them to your Google account storage. If you don't have it, get it. It's a free download in the Google Play Store.

Once it's downloaded, you just have to allow Google Photos access to your photo and video library, tap Backup and Sync and all of the photos and video on your phone will be copied to the cloud where you can access them from anywhere!

See everything you need to know in the Google Photos Ultimate Guide

How to back up your photos and video to the cloud using Google Drive

  1. Launch your gallery application from your home screen or from the app drawer. We're using Google Photos in our examples.
  2. Tap the photo you'd like to upload to Google Drive or tap and hold a photo and select multiple photos to upload.
  3. Tap the share button. It's usually at the top of the screen. It's a right-facing 'V' with dots on each point.
  4. Tap Save to Drive.

    Tap the photos you would like to back up, tap the share button, tap Save to Drive

  5. Tap Account to choose which Google account's Google Drive you want to save to.
  6. Tap Folder to select the folder within that Google Drive that you'd like to save to.
  7. Tap the folder you'd like to save to and tap Select Folder in the bottom righthand corner of your screen.
  8. Tap Save in the bottom right-hand corner of your screen.

    Tap account to select a Google account, tap Folder to select a folder, tap the folder you want to save to, tap Select folder, tap Save

Your photos will then be uploaded to that location in your Google Drive and you'll receive a notification when it's complete.

Google Drive gives you 15GB of storage for free, so depending on the size of the photos and video you're saving, you'll likely be able to save thousands of photos and hundreds of videos. The best part is you can access or download them from any device with a web browser.

See everything you need to know in the Google Drive Ultimate Guide

How to back up photos and video to the cloud using Dropbox

Dropbox is a free app that gives you up to 2GB of online storage for free. You can't go wrong with double-free! All you need to do is create an account, download the app on your phone and on your computer, and you're ready to start backing up your photos and video to the cloud where almost any device with a web browser can access them.

You'll first need to sign up for and create an account with Dropbox. You can do that through a web browser at the Dropbox website. Next, you'll want to install and set up Dropbox app on your phone. Then you can upload photos and video until your folder is full! Here's how

  1. Download the Dropbox app from the Google Play Store.
  2. Launch Dropbox from your home screen or the app drawer.
  3. Tap Sign in.
  4. Enter your email address and password.
  5. Tap Sign in.

    Tap Sign In, enter your email address and password, tap Sign In

  6. Tap the add button. It's the plus sign in the blue circle.
  7. Tap Upload photos or videos.
  8. Tap the photo(s) and video you'd like to upload to Dropbox.
  9. Tap Upload in the bottom righthand corner of your screen.

    tap the add button, tap Upload photos and videos, tap the photos and video you want to upload to Dropbox, tap Upload

Your photos and video will now be uploaded to your Dropbox folder, which you can access from just about any device with an internet connection. If you're using the Dropbox app on your computer, you can just open the file and save it like you would any other document.

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8 months ago

What do all those networking terms mean? Network nerdery for dummies

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Making sense of those acronyms and abbreviations.

"Hey, man. Did you hear that Qualcomm's new X20 modem is rated for cat 18 LTE, carries 12 spatial streams and is 4x4 MIMO capable? Isn't that cool?"

Maybe that's cool, but really how is a regular person with a regular job or who goes to regular school and has regular hobbies supposed to know? It sounds like a secret code with all the abbreviations and acronyms, and the companies who want us to buy it aren't any better at explaining: "10 times faster" "5G" "Gigabit". Those words may convey the right message — that things will be fast — but take no time to say why or how.

A lot of tech talk is this way. Engineers are lazy when it comes to typing or writing. Things like "power over Ethernet" instantly become PoE, or "impedance" becomes Z (I is for current. Of course it is.). That's why you hear words and phrases like QAM that don't mean a thing unless you stop and look them up. And usually, the answer is filled with other acronyms and abbreviations. Did I mention that engineers are lazy typists?

Because Qualcomm and some of their partners are working on changing the whole game when it comes to better wireless networking, you'll be hearing or reading this kind of stuff a lot. Here's some help so you know wtf those nerds are talking about!

  • 4G stands for fourth generation wireless. 3G was the third generation, and so on. There are standards, but companies like AT&T are allowed to just use the G as a marketing term.
  • LTE stands for Long Term Evolution. It's based on the old standards but has evolved to be faster and better at carrying data.
  • cat usually follows LTE when talking about wireless. It simply stands for category. Higher numbers are faster.
  • Carrier aggregation (sometimes LTE CA) is part of the advanced LTE standards that lets a network combine LTE signals. More radio waves equal more and faster data. You'll see it expressed as "5x20MHz" which is not an acronym and means five 20MHz signals.
  • QAM is short for Quadrature Amplitude Modulation. It's a method to take two different instances of the same shape signal wave and put them 90-degrees out of phase. Modulation and demodulation use both amplitude and phase to process the signal. Wireless networks and phones (and cable boxes and HDTV tuners) are designed to use Quantized QAM because square waves offer more bits per symbol with a lower SNR.
  • The entire section above this one is because I know there are some budding engineers that will read this and want that explanation. For everyone else, QAM is a way to send a signal that carries more data with less noise than there would be if you amplified a single "regular" signal. A higher number means more data and faster speeds.
  • MIMO stands for multiple inputs, multiple outputs. It's an antenna design that has both the device sending a signal and the device receiving the signal using more than one antenna at the same time, This means the signal can carry more data and have fewer errors.
  • Spatial streams are how a MIMO setup carries different signals on each antenna. The receiving device (your phone) puts them all together into one signal filled with lots of data. This is also called multiplexing. The more streams that can be sent at the same time, the more data is in the stream when they are put back together. 12 streams are better than 10.

This is a good start. You won't turn into a wireless engineer by reading it and there are a lot of technicalities not included here. That's by design — someone has to try and turn all this stuff into something everyone reading about it can understand.

And there a a lot more abbreviations, acronyms, and insanity when it comes to telecom terms, Toss out the ones you know in the comments so we all can have a better understanding of why our stuff is supposed to be faster in the 5G future.

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8 months ago

How to use Kodi to watch live TV

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Kodi is a terrific cord-cutting tool, and it's really simple to watch live TV with it on your favorite Android.

To be clear, this isn't about watching TV channels delivered over the internet (IPTV) but actual over-the-air (OTA) channels. With the right hardware and matching plugins, adding your OTA TV to the main Kodi interface is a breeze. Android TV can integrate Live TV itself, but if you're a fan of having everything inside the Kodi interface then this one is for you.

For the purposes of this guide, we're using a HDHomeRun Connect tuner, but the process is the same for other supported PVR hardware. You also must have set up your hardware first before going into Kodi.

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8 months ago

How to use Game Tools on the Samsung Galaxy S7

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Game Tools makes gaming easier on your Galaxy S7 and S7 edge.

The Samsung Galaxy S7 is an outstanding phone, and our pick for the best phone for gamers.

Besides the outstanding hardware, the Galaxy S7 and S7 edge rise above the rest due to some tools designed specifically for gamers that you can activate from your phone's settings.

Here's some info about what Game Tools and Game Launcher offer, and how to activate and use these services on the Galaxy S7 and S7 edge.

Note: These features were also retroactively added to Samsung's entire Galaxy S6 line up as well.

See at Amazon

What are Game Tools and Game Launcher?

Turning on Game Tools activates a handy floating button that provides easy access to a bunch of really important settings that are great to have on hand during a gaming marathon. This includes quick access to disabling distracting notifications, locking out the recent and back keys, and a button for minimizing the game.

You also get two tools for sharing what you're playing: Screenshot and Record. Screenshot allows you to quickly tap twice to grab a screenshot of what you're playing without resorting to awkwardly pressing the home and power button, and record lets you screen record yourself playing on your phone, with options in settings to overlay an image or video of yourself playing for recording Let's Play videos to share on YouTube, Twitch, or other social media.

Turning on Game Tools activates a handy floating button that provides easy access to a bunch of really important settings.

Game Launcher creates an icon for your home screen that, as the name implies, allows you to launch all your games from one place. It allows you to toggle the Game Tools icon without heading back to Settings, and also lets you launch a game muted if you're in a quiet place, or quickly turn on power saving modes. Ultimately, it allows you to keep an uncluttered home screen while still giving you quick access to all of your favorite games.

How to turn on Game Mode and Game Launcher

Both Game Mode and Game Launcher are turned off by default, so you'll need to go into Settings to turn them on.

  1. Open Settings from your home screen and or app drawer.
  2. Swipe up to scroll down.
  3. Tap Advanced Features.

  4. Tap Games.

  5. Tap Game Mode or Game Launcher to learn more about their features and find the toggle switch for them on or off.
  6. Tap the switch to turn Game Mode on.

It's the same process to turn on Game Launcher, which offers three pages of information on the different features included:

How to use Game Tools

Ok, so you've turned on Game Tools in settings and you're ready to play. When you load up a game now, you'll now see a floating red button along the edge of the screen. That's your Game Tools menu, and you're able to tap and hold to drag it wherever is most convenient for you on the screen.

Tap it at any time to bring up the Game Tools Menu. From there, you can quickly toggle some really handy features, such as turning off alerts while you're playing the game and disabling the recent and back buttons — a frequent frustration for some.

If you're interested in using the screen record option, you'll want to tap Settings first. It includes a bunch of important features and settings that you'll want to set up ahead of time, including setting up an avatar or live video recorded from the front-facing camera while you play, along with options to record audio from the microphone so you can provide your own live commentary as you play, or choose to only record the game audio. Lastly, you're able to set the resolution your video will be recorded at along with bitrate settings.

What are your thoughts?

Do you find these tools useful, or not worth the effort to set them up? Let us know in the comments!

Android Gaming

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8 months ago

Best flash drives to expand your NVIDIA Shield Android TV's storage

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Best flash drives to expand your NVIDIA Shield Android TV's storage

It's cheap and easy to expand the internal storage of your set top box.

The latest revision of the NVIDIA Shield Android TV may have lost its SD card slot, but it still has two perfectly good USB 3.0 ports that can work to expand your internal storage. You can attach just about anything to those ports, but with just 16GB of internal storage, many will want to fill one with an inexpensive flash drive that can be adopted into the system and work just as if it were internal storage.

NVIDIA actually makes a great set of recommendations for which flash drives work best with your Shield, and having done some research on them ourselves, we want to point out which ones are the drives to go with.

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8 months ago

The Galaxy S8 is water resistant, not liquid resistant

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Your phone has no fear when it comes to water but be careful with other liquids.

One of the features you'll find in most top-end phones in 2017 is water resistance. The Galaxy S8 and Galaxy S8+ from Samsung are no exception. Raining outside? No problem. The Galaxy S8's IP68 rating means the rain has no effect. The same goes for a splash at the sink, a dip in the pool, and maybe even a spilled soda or beer.

Yes, maybe. Not everything wet is water and even things that are mostly water might be best kept away from your water-resistant phone.

This doesn't only apply to the Galaxy S8, or even phones in general. Water resistant objects are designed to keep out water — exclusively. Because of the chemical composition of any liquid, anything water resistant might not be beer resistant. Or champange resistant, because science!

Rugged phone ratings: Everything you need to know

Liquids feel, well, liquidy. But all liquids have other things dissolved into them. Things like magnesium and calcium are in the water you drink and depending on where in the world you are you can have very hard water (lots of calcium and other dissolved minerals) or very soft water (very few dissolved minerals) or somewhere in between. The GS8 is designed to be soaked in good old tap water with no ill effects. You don't have to worry, but we don't recommend you take your phone snorkeling. (If you do, send us pics because that's pretty cool).

Other types of water, specifically distilled water and really hot water, are probably something you don't want to dunk your phone in. Science also means that distilled water is virtually free of any dissolved minerals and might be able to penetrate where "regular" water can't. Hot water, on the other hand, can loosen adhesives and gaskets.

A quick rinse to wash away chemicals or sticky liquids isn't going to hurt anything.

Other liquids like beer or antifreeze — or anything that's not just plain water — might have chemicals that can penetrate the water resistant barriers or just make a mess in speaker holes, headphone jacks, and SIM card slots. If you get something that's not water you'd drink on your phone, rinse it gently in the sink with room temperature water as soon as you can.

If you get the ports all gunked up, and it happens to the best of us, don't go jamming toothpicks or sewing needles in the nooks and crannies to scrape it out. Wipe it down with a damp washcloth and let the fabric scrub away the surface dirt and sticky stuff or take a toothbrush and gently work at it. If you do end up having to dig in any holes with anything smaller than your elbow, be super careful not to cause any damage to parts or finishes. All that is part of being water resistant and needs to stay as intact as it can.

You don't need to baby your Galaxy S8 when it comes to using it around the water. It's built for it! Just be mindful for spills and splashes of other liquids.

Samsung Galaxy S8 and S8+

Verizon AT&T T-Mobile Sprint Unlocked

img { width: 100%; height: auto; } .devicebox ul { display: table; margin: 0 0 10px; width: 100%; } .devicebox ul li { background: #f7f7f7; margin: 2px 0; padding: 4px 15px; } .devicebox ul li:hover { background: #fff; } .devicebox ul li:before { display: none; } .devicebox p ~ p { line-height: 1.25; } .devicebox p:first-of-type + p { padding: 15px; } .devicebox a.buy-link { border-radius: 5px; display: inline-block; font: 14px/31px "Proxima Nova Extrabld",Helvetica,Arial,sans-serif; text-align: center; } .devicebox a.buy-link, .devicebox a.buy-link:link, .devicebox a.buy-link:active, .devicebox a.buy-link:visited { background: #37B5D7; color: #FFF; } .devicebox a.buy-link:hover { background: #2694B2; text-decoration: none; } .devicebox a.buy-link:before { content: "\e61e"; font: 40px/0 "ac_iconset" !important; margin: 0 3px 0 -8px; vertical-align: middle; } @media all and (min-width: 1025px), all and (max-width: 800px) and (min-width: 660px) { /* div:not(.columns-3) excludes help menu content */ .article-body-wrap > div:not(.columns-3) > *:first-child:not(.sticky-wrapper) .devicebox { padding: 20px 0 25px; } .article-body-wrap > div:not(.columns-3) > *:first-child:not(.sticky-wrapper) .devicebox .video { float: left; margin: 0 30px 0 0; width: calc(100% - 375px); } .article-body-wrap > div:not(.columns-3) > *:first-child:not(.sticky-wrapper) .devicebox h3 + p { bottom: 37px; display: block; overflow: hidden; position: absolute; top: 60px; width: calc(100% - 375px); } .article-body-wrap > div:not(.columns-3) > *:first-child:not(.sticky-wrapper) .devicebox p img, .article-body-wrap > div:not(.columns-3) > *:first-child:not(.sticky-wrapper) .devicebox p > img { position: absolute; top: 50%; transform: translateY(-50%); } .article-body-wrap > div:not(.columns-3) > *:first-child:not(.sticky-wrapper) .devicebox p:nth-child(n+3), .article-body-wrap > div:not(.columns-3) > *:first-child:not(.sticky-wrapper) .devicebox ul { box-sizing: border-box; margin-left: calc(100% - 345px); width: 340px; } .article-body-wrap > div:not(.columns-3) > *:first-child:not(.sticky-wrapper) .devicebox p.list-head { margin-top: -5px; } } @media all and (max-width: 1024px) and (min-width: 801px), all and (max-width: 660px) { .devicebox h3 { text-align: center; } .devicebox ul, .devicebox p { display: block; } } @media all and (max-width: 800px) and (min-width: 660px) { .devicebox { padding: 20px 0 25px; } .devicebox .video { float: left; margin: 0 30px 0 0; width: calc(100% - 375px); } .devicebox h3 + p { bottom: 37px; display: block; overflow: hidden; position: absolute; top: 60px; width: calc(100% - 375px); } .devicebox p img, .devicebox p > img { position: absolute; top: 50%; transform: translateY(-50%); } .devicebox p:nth-child(n+3), .devicebox ul { box-sizing: border-box; margin-left: calc(100% - 345px); width: 340px; } .devicebox p.list-head { margin-top: -5px; } } @media all and (min-width: 1025px), all and (max-width: 800px) and (min-width: 661px), all and (max-width: 500px) { /* 2x buy buttons */ .devicebox a.buy-link { width: calc(50% - 2.5px); margin: 0 5px 5px 0; } .devicebox a.buy-link:nth-of-type(even) { margin: 0 0 5px 0; } .devicebox a.buy-link:last-of-type:nth-of-type(odd) { width: 100%; } } @media all and (max-width: 1024px) and (min-width: 801px), all and (max-width: 659px) and (min-width: 501px) { /* 3x buy buttons */ .devicebox a.buy-link { width: calc(100%/3 - 10px/3); margin: 0 5px 5px 0; } .devicebox a.buy-link:nth-of-type(3n):not(:nth-last-of-type(2)) { margin: 0 0 5px 0; } .devicebox a.buy-link:only-child { width: 100%; margin: 0 0 5px 0; } .devicebox a.buy-link:nth-last-of-type(2):nth-of-type(3n+1), .devicebox a.buy-link:nth-last-of-type(2):nth-of-type(3n+1) ~ a.buy-link, .devicebox a.buy-link:nth-last-of-type(4):nth-of-type(3n+1), .devicebox a.buy-link:nth-last-of-type(4):nth-of-type(3n+1) ~ a.buy-link { width: calc(50% - 2.5px); } .devicebox a.buy-link:nth-last-of-type(2):nth-of-type(3n+1) ~ a.buy-link, .devicebox a.buy-link:nth-last-of-type(4):nth-of-type(3n+1) ~ a.buy-link:nth-last-of-type(odd) { margin: 0 0 5px 0; } } @media all and (max-width: 800px) { .devicebox { margin: 0 0 30px; max-width: none; width: auto; } } @media all and (max-width: 500px) { .devicebox { margin: 0 0 30px; max-width: none; width: auto; } .devicebox a.buy-link:before { display: none; } } .page-admin .devicebox {max-width: 350px;} .page-admin .devicebox .video_iframe {position: relative; height: 0; padding-bottom: 56.9%;} .page-admin .devicebox .video_iframe iframe {width: 100%; height: 100%; position: absolute;} /*-->*/ /*-->*/ /*-->*/

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8 months ago

How to use Game Tools on the Samsung Galaxy S8

3

What are Game Tools and Game Launcher and why are they so important this time around?

Samsung introduced Game Tools on their phones starting with the Galaxy S7 and S7 edge, and then retroactively added the feature to the Galaxy S6. Turning on Game Tools on those phones activated floating button, which provided easy access to a bunch of really handy settings for screen recording and avoiding distractions during gaming marathons.

With the Galaxy S's unique 18.5:9 aspect ratio, pretty much every game is going to feature ugly letterboxing by default.

A notable feature on the Galaxy S8 is the switch from physical buttons to on-screen navigation control. Samsung has integrated the Game Tools icon into the navigation bar when you're playing a game, keeping it always at close hand without a clunky floating button. It's a subtle but significant change that keeps everything in a standard location without distracting from the on-screen action.

With the Galaxy S's unique 18.5:9 aspect ratio, pretty much every game is going to feature ugly letterboxing by default. Samsung has addressed that with an option to scale and adapt games to fill the full screen built right into the Game Tools Menu. Other options let you disable notifications, turn off the home button's functionality during gameplay, as well as turn off touch sensitivity around the edges of the curved screen — all crucial features for not getting distracted while playing.

How to turn on Game Launcher

If you're planning to play games on your Galaxy S8, you'll definitely want to turn on Game Launcher, which unlocks the Game Tools menus during gameplay.

  1. Tap the Settings icon from your app drawer.
  2. Tap Advanced features.
  3. Tap Games.
  4. Tap the toggle switch to turn on Game Launcher.

To actually set up and configure the Game Tools settings, you'll need to actually launch a game and access the Game Tools menu.

How to use Game Tools while playing

Accessing the full suite of Game Tools options while you're playing a game is really easy — simply swipe to reveal the navigation buttons and you'll see two extra buttons flanking the standard home, back, and recent apps buttons.

The one on the left is the Game Tools main menu, while the one on the right can be set up as a shortcut to take screenshots or record video. If you're planning to record video, you'll want to tweak those recording settings there ahead of time.

The key features included in the Game Tools menu are:

  • Full Screen — Arguably the most important button in the menu. By default, games will play with letterboxed black bars on the top and bottom or sides (depending on orientation). Turning on Full Screen will scale up your games to make use of the full screen, edge to edge. Toggling this will force the game to restart.
  • No alerts during game — Pretty straight forward. This disables notifications from popping up and ruining your flow.
  • Hard press button lock — Disables the ability to accidentally tap the digital home button.
  • Edge touch lock — Disables touch sensitivity around the curved edges of the screen to help you avoid accidental touches.
  • Screen Touch Lock — Pauses the game and locks the screen. Swipe to unlock the screen and return to the game.
  • Screenshot — Tap to quickly take a screenshot while in the heat of the action. Sure beats trying to press the power and volume-down buttons!
  • Record — Lets you quickly record gameplay videos as you play, with options to record yourself via the front-facing camera and microphone for creating your own Let's Play videos and live streams.

These settings will remain in place across all your games, so you won't have to individually turn on Full Screen mode with all your games.

Opposite the main Game Tools menu is the shortcut button, which gives you quick access to one of three actions: take a screenshot, start and stop recording video, or turn on Screen Touch Lock. It's very easy to setup and can be changed on the fly as needed.

  1. Long press the Shortcut button.
  2. Select your preferred action.

If you're planning to record and share your gameplay footage, you'll want to head into the video record settings to set up things just the way you want. You have the option of including a profile image or logo on your video capture, or turn on the front-facing camera for that classic Let's Play picture-in-picture video format. You'll also want to set the video resolution, but be aware of that there are recording limitations — the Galaxy S8 is able to record up to 4GB per recording, which equates to 80 minutes of gameplay at 1080px resolution, its highest setting.

And that's it!

Have you been gaming on the Galaxy S8? What do you think of the Game Tools and how does the experience hold up against previous phones you've owned? Let us know in the comments!

Samsung Galaxy S8 and S8+

Verizon AT&T T-Mobile Sprint Unlocked

img { width: 100%; height: auto; } .devicebox ul { display: table; margin: 0 0 10px; width: 100%; } .devicebox ul li { background: #f7f7f7; margin: 2px 0; padding: 4px 15px; } .devicebox ul li:hover { background: #fff; } .devicebox ul li:before { display: none; } .devicebox p ~ p { line-height: 1.25; } .devicebox p:first-of-type + p { padding: 15px; } .devicebox a.buy-link { border-radius: 5px; display: inline-block; font: 14px/31px "Proxima Nova Extrabld",Helvetica,Arial,sans-serif; text-align: center; } .devicebox a.buy-link, .devicebox a.buy-link:link, .devicebox a.buy-link:active, .devicebox a.buy-link:visited { background: #37B5D7; color: #FFF; } .devicebox a.buy-link:hover { background: #2694B2; text-decoration: none; } .devicebox a.buy-link:before { content: "\e61e"; font: 40px/0 "ac_iconset" !important; margin: 0 3px 0 -8px; vertical-align: middle; } @media all and (min-width: 1025px), all and (max-width: 800px) and (min-width: 660px) { /* div:not(.columns-3) excludes help menu content */ .article-body-wrap > div:not(.columns-3) > *:first-child:not(.sticky-wrapper) .devicebox { padding: 20px 0 25px; } .article-body-wrap > div:not(.columns-3) > *:first-child:not(.sticky-wrapper) .devicebox .video { float: left; margin: 0 30px 0 0; width: calc(100% - 375px); } .article-body-wrap > div:not(.columns-3) > *:first-child:not(.sticky-wrapper) .devicebox h3 + p { bottom: 37px; display: block; overflow: hidden; position: absolute; top: 60px; width: calc(100% - 375px); } .article-body-wrap > div:not(.columns-3) > *:first-child:not(.sticky-wrapper) .devicebox p img, .article-body-wrap > div:not(.columns-3) > *:first-child:not(.sticky-wrapper) .devicebox p > img { position: absolute; top: 50%; transform: translateY(-50%); } .article-body-wrap > div:not(.columns-3) > *:first-child:not(.sticky-wrapper) .devicebox p:nth-child(n+3), .article-body-wrap > div:not(.columns-3) > *:first-child:not(.sticky-wrapper) .devicebox ul { box-sizing: border-box; margin-left: calc(100% - 345px); width: 340px; } .article-body-wrap > div:not(.columns-3) > *:first-child:not(.sticky-wrapper) .devicebox p.list-head { margin-top: -5px; } } @media all and (max-width: 1024px) and (min-width: 801px), all and (max-width: 660px) { .devicebox h3 { text-align: center; } .devicebox ul, .devicebox p { display: block; } } @media all and (max-width: 800px) and (min-width: 660px) { .devicebox { padding: 20px 0 25px; } .devicebox .video { float: left; margin: 0 30px 0 0; width: calc(100% - 375px); } .devicebox h3 + p { bottom: 37px; display: block; overflow: hidden; position: absolute; top: 60px; width: calc(100% - 375px); } .devicebox p img, .devicebox p > img { position: absolute; top: 50%; transform: translateY(-50%); } .devicebox p:nth-child(n+3), .devicebox ul { box-sizing: border-box; margin-left: calc(100% - 345px); width: 340px; } .devicebox p.list-head { margin-top: -5px; } } @media all and (min-width: 1025px), all and (max-width: 800px) and (min-width: 661px), all and (max-width: 500px) { /* 2x buy buttons */ .devicebox a.buy-link { width: calc(50% - 2.5px); margin: 0 5px 5px 0; } .devicebox a.buy-link:nth-of-type(even) { margin: 0 0 5px 0; } .devicebox a.buy-link:last-of-type:nth-of-type(odd) { width: 100%; } } @media all and (max-width: 1024px) and (min-width: 801px), all and (max-width: 659px) and (min-width: 501px) { /* 3x buy buttons */ .devicebox a.buy-link { width: calc(100%/3 - 10px/3); margin: 0 5px 5px 0; } .devicebox a.buy-link:nth-of-type(3n):not(:nth-last-of-type(2)) { margin: 0 0 5px 0; } .devicebox a.buy-link:only-child { width: 100%; margin: 0 0 5px 0; } .devicebox a.buy-link:nth-last-of-type(2):nth-of-type(3n+1), .devicebox a.buy-link:nth-last-of-type(2):nth-of-type(3n+1) ~ a.buy-link, .devicebox a.buy-link:nth-last-of-type(4):nth-of-type(3n+1), .devicebox a.buy-link:nth-last-of-type(4):nth-of-type(3n+1) ~ a.buy-link { width: calc(50% - 2.5px); } .devicebox a.buy-link:nth-last-of-type(2):nth-of-type(3n+1) ~ a.buy-link, .devicebox a.buy-link:nth-last-of-type(4):nth-of-type(3n+1) ~ a.buy-link:nth-last-of-type(odd) { margin: 0 0 5px 0; } } @media all and (max-width: 800px) { .devicebox { margin: 0 0 30px; max-width: none; width: auto; } } @media all and (max-width: 500px) { .devicebox { margin: 0 0 30px; max-width: none; width: auto; } .devicebox a.buy-link:before { display: none; } } .page-admin .devicebox {max-width: 350px;} .page-admin .devicebox .video_iframe {position: relative; height: 0; padding-bottom: 56.9%;} .page-admin .devicebox .video_iframe iframe {width: 100%; height: 100%; position: absolute;} /*-->*/ /*-->*/ /*-->*/

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